Updated Nov. 22, 2022
Millions gather to view your content marketing on their screens.
Crowds line up over two miles just to get a glimpse of your content in real life.
That’s the stuff of content marketers’ dreams. And it’s the reality for marketers at Macy’s, the U.S. department store chain that has put on a parade in New York City every Thanksgiving since 1924.
I’m a big fan of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I traveled to see it twice, and I never miss watching it on television. And that’s before I realized it’s all content marketing. Here are some lessons that struck me.
1. Steal ideas – just make them better
Macy’s wasn’t the first department store to host a parade as a content marketing tool for the Christmas buying season. In 1920, the Gimbel Brothers department store in Philadelphia created the first one. Four years later – the same year Macy’s launched its parade – the J.L. Hudson Co. department store started one in Detroit. Though those parades continue today, Gimbels and Hudson’s haven’t been involved for decades. Hudson’s ceased its parade connection when it closed its Detroit flagship in the late 1970s. (The chain was later bought by Macy’s). And the Philadelphia department store was liquidated in the mid-1980s.
Original ideas are hard to come by (some say there aren’t any). Don’t spend all your time trying to create something no one’s done. Look for existing inspiration. You may find content that isn’t living up to its potential – and then you can take the opportunity to do it better.
2. Stick with what works, adjust what doesn’t
The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade stretched over six miles and featured nursery rhyme characters, store employees dressed as clowns and cowboys, and animals from the Central Park Zoo. A float carrying Santa and a reindeer-pulled sleigh closed the parade.
In the 21st century, the parade traverses only 2.5 miles to ensure a tighter show. It features multi-story-tall balloons that long ago replaced the zoo animals. It welcomes brands other than Macy’s into the act (think Pillsbury Dough Boy and Ronald McDonald). Marching bands from around the country, floats featuring lip-syncing celebrities, and live characters like the gang from Sesame Street expand the appeal.
Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are far more elaborate now, but the jolly fella retains his almost 100-year-old place in the parade – the final act anticipated by young and old.
When you have an enduring content star, go ahead and tweak it. Don’t use the same old, same old content all the time. Each year, Macy’s creates a curiosity gap: What new balloons will debut? Which will be retired?
What annual content can you create that entices your audience to return again and again? At CMI, for example, we create content marketing research reports every year. Some of the questions in the research questionnaire remain the same each year, but we add new ones based on our audience’s needs, industry trends, and global changes.
For example, a B2B brand might add a new department focused on remote work to its quarterly magazine. A B2C brand might shoot short, tip-focused videos based on information from blog articles.
The opportunities to adjust your content mix – topic, format, etc. – are endless.
3. Look at things from a different perspective
Let’s get to the truth. Despite the name (and the turkey float), the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has little to do with Thanksgiving. It’s really about the shopping season leading up to the biggest gift-giving occasions of the year. The floats, balloons, and songs all revolve around the red-and-green holiday. In fact, the event’s initial name was Macy’s Christmas Parade. Macy’s, as a business, isn’t focused on the Thanksgiving holiday. Macy’s cares about the timing of Thanksgiving – a month or so before the gift exchanges begin.
Think about traditional events or activities in your industry. How can you create content that turns them on their head? Let’s say your company has a booth at the same trade show every September. Instead of crafting another evergreen white paper to showcase your thought leadership, use the event as the exclusive release site for a must-have report on industry predictions for the coming year. Make that report the center of your content hub for the quarter, giving it life far beyond the two-day event.
4. Don’t go solo
Macy’s isn’t the only brand involved in the parade. McDonald’s sends up a Ronald McDonald balloon accompanied by his giant shoe car on the ground. Kraft’s Kool-Aid Man crashed the party for many years. Jennie-O’s Big Turkey Spectacular, Dreamworks’ Boss Baby, and Sinclair Oil’s baby dinos participate this year. And brands like Olay, Entenmann’s, Wonder Bread, and Lego host floats. Each branded parade entry is an example of sponsored content.
If a sponsored content model doesn’t fit your organization’s content strategy, you can still find ways to connect with other companies. For example, accept guest blogs on your site or craft guest content for non-competing brands that have similar target audiences.
5. Interact with your audience
In 2020, Macy’s used its Twitter account to engage with its audience before and during the parade. In addition to previewing that year’s attractions, Macy’s conducted a series of promoted tweets (that’s how they found me, though I didn’t remember to save one to share here). The tweet said Macy’s would send me a reminder about the parade if I picked my favorite parade activity and tweeted about it.
So I did:
— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) November 23, 2020
Two hours before the parade started, I got this personalized reminder tweet:
— Macy’s (@Macys) November 26, 2020
When you try to engage your audience members on Twitter, think about inviting them into your account or brand. That requires more than clicking a heart or retweeting. Make it personal. Give them something fun or valuable to share. Follow up with more personalized content.
6. Scrutinize your language
While I liked Macy’s approach to personalizing Twitter that year, I wasn’t a fan of its use of the word “diverse” in a 2020 tweet intended to celebrate Zeta Phi Beta, a Black sorority celebrating 100 years and making its first appearance in the parade:
TheJasmineBRAND grabbed the tweet before Macy’s removed it a couple of hours after it caused an outcry:
— theJasmineBRAND (@thejasminebrand) November 26, 2020
Poor, wrong, or ignorant word choices eliminate any value your content might have had and can hurt the brand. Proofread your content not only for spelling and grammar but also for intent, interpretation, inclusivity, and so on. Macy’s misstep also teaches another writing lesson – creating inclusive and diverse content usually doesn’t require you to point out that it’s diverse and inclusive.
7. Start small
Macy’s didn’t set up a grandiose event in 1924. The parade entries covered only two blocks and included about 50 people. But that was enough to enthrall tens, if not hundreds of thousands, to show up along the six-mile route. Though the media barely covered the event, the audience response prompted Macy’s to announce a few weeks later that the parade would return the next year. (It wasn’t until the parade made its television debut almost 30 years later that Macy’s got national attention and drew in millions more fans.)
What are your content marketing dreams (i.e., big goals)? They may seem overly ambitious, but is there a minimum viable content product you could really create that might lead to making those dreams come true? Start planning today.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
The Rise of Web3 in Web Design: 8 Ways Website Development Will Change Forever
Are You Prepared for the Shift in Website Design with the Rise of Blockchain Technology?”
Let’s take a deep dive into the exciting future and world of web3 blockchain technology, and its impact on website design and development.
I’m going to provide you with real-world examples, and by the end you should have a clear and concise explanation of how decentralization, data management, and interactions will work in the future of websites.
I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about the benefits of adopting these technologies, including increased security, website personalization, and user control.
If you want to stay ahead in the field of website design and understand the future of the industry then this article is a must-read.
The way we build websites now is changing!
The way websites are built now is inefficient and requires a huge knowledge base to build correctly. Most website platforms these days use some form of a WYSIWYG “WiziWig” style builder like WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, and countless others.
It’s taken over 30 years for websites to be as good as they are today, this direction is for the long term thinker who wants to be on the cutting edge of the industry and build their brand in a space that is extremely new.
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You will need to learn the technology overtime and become proficient with the types of industries that are looking to build web3 websites and applications. There are already a few decentralized website and web app builders out there that are fully running on blockchain technology.
Decentralized Web App Builder Example: ICME
One example is a company called ICME that has “world’s first smart contract marketplace and web3 no-code suite.” Their modules even offer the ability to integrate with web2 applications that support API Post Requests.
Their entire code base is built on a blockchain technology called Internet Computer, which is why I’m actually invested in their Cryptocurrency known as ICP on exchanges. It allows you to do everything from building landing pages, websites, blog posts, online stores, Linktree type pages, Store NFT’s and more.
I do see some existing platforms like WordPress evolving into a fully decentralized Web3 platform, that would dramatically speed up market adoption as they have such a huge knowledge base and community of creators, it’s just a matter of time.
The exact evolution of website building tools is yet to be seen, but what’s certain is that web3 and blockchain technology will play a significant role in shaping the future of the web. The sooner you start to adopt and learn this technology the further ahead you will be when the time comes to switch from the internet we know it to what’s coming in the not too distant future.
Web3 Websites will be easier to build and customize with AI Tools.
The process of building websites in Web3 becomes much more intuitive and easy with the integration of artificial intelligence, with tools like OpenAI, you will simply give the program a prompt and give it a clear description of what you want your website to look like, say, do, and create.
This is where things will get fun for a designer and being able to let your creativity and artistic talent reach a level never seen before.
The need or demand for front end website programmers will change as less custom coding will be required, your website will be able to change visual elements and maybe more in the future with ai.
Web3 Websites are going to become very personalized experiences and brand centric.
Websites will collect data with consent(which is another point for later), that allows the user to have a completely customized user experience and interaction. Imagine a traditional website as a restaurant where the customers order their food from the menu and the kitchen staff prepares the dishes.
In this scenario, the restaurant manager is the central authority that controls the flow of information, the menu, and the preparation of the food. However, in a web3 and blockchain enabled website, this centralized authority is replaced by a decentralized network of customers, chefs, and kitchen staff.
With web3 and blockchain technology, website users can interact with the site in a more direct and efficient manner. Instead of relying on a central authority, users can participate in transactions and interactions on the website without intermediaries.
This eliminates the need for middlemen, making the process faster, more secure, and cost-effective.
For example, a user can easily and securely create their own profile, manage their data, and participate in transactions on the website. This level of user empowerment enables them to take control of their online presence and interactions, providing them with greater privacy and security.
The decentralization of website interactions through web3 and blockchain technology represents a shift towards a more user-centric and efficient web experience. It eliminates the need for intermediaries, providing users with greater control over their interactions, transactions, and data.
Web3 Data Management will become more secure.
Imagine now you are running a restaurant and you need to keep track of all the ingredients you have in stock, what dishes you serve, and the orders from your customers. In the traditional system, you would keep all this information in a single ledger book, written by hand.
However, with the integration of blockchain technology in your restaurant, this system of record-keeping becomes much more efficient and secure. Each ingredient becomes a unique item with its own blockchain record, and the orders from customers are recorded as transactions.
This decentralization of data management ensures that all the information is secure and can be easily accessed by any member of the team who needs it.
In the same way, decentralization will work for data management in website design and development. Instead of relying on a single central database to store all website data, this information can be spread out across multiple nodes on a blockchain network.
This means that website data is not stored in one central location, but is instead distributed across many different nodes, making it much more secure and resilient against hacking or other forms of data loss.
For example, user data such as personal information, preferences, and transactions can be stored in a secure and encrypted manner on a blockchain network like Internet Computer. This allows website owners to manage their data in a more secure and efficient way, giving users peace of mind that their information is protected.
The integration of blockchain technology in website design and development will lead to a more secure and efficient way of managing our website data.
Like William Mougayar said author of The Business Blockchain “In a world where data is currency, the blockchain offers a new model of trust and control.” By decentralizing our data management, website owners will know that all information is stored in a secure and transparent manner, promoting trust and confidence among users.
Say goodbye to hackers once websites are on Web3.
There were 22 billion breached records in 2021 alone, the biggest reason behind that is due to the nature of Centralized servers and website platforms. In Web3 security can be compared to a fortified castle, providing superior protection against outside threats and ensuring the safety of you and your clients or customers valuable information and data.
Using blockchain technology, website owners will be able to offer a greater degree of security to their users, protecting their data and transactions from malicious actors.
This will be particularly important in fields such as finance and healthcare, where the protection of sensitive information is of utmost importance and required by HIPAA and other regulatory agencies.
Just as a fortified castle protects its inhabitants from outside threats, web3 provides a layer of security to websites that is unparalleled by traditional web design.
The decentralized nature of web3 eliminates the need for a central point of control, making it much harder for hackers to penetrate. In addition, web3’s advanced encryption algorithms and blockchain technology provide a secure platform for website data and interactions.
In a traditional website, all data is stored in a central database, making it a prime target for cyber attacks. On the other hand, web3 stores data across a network of nodes, making it much harder for a single point of failure to occur. This eliminates the risk of large scale data breaches, as well as reducing the risk of individual data being compromised.
Finally, web3’s immutable ledger ensures that all website interactions are transparent and secure. This means that all transactions and changes made to the website can be tracked and verified, making it easier to detect and prevent any fraudulent activity. So if you want to protect your website and your clients website and their users from outside threats, web3 is going to be the way to go!
“Blockchain technology offers a level of security that was previously unachievable on the internet.” – Don Tapscott, blockchain expert and author of Blockchain Revolution
Automation will be effortless with Web3.
Blockchain Web Apps will have the ability to work together seamlessly, I see a future not too far off where ecosystems of dozens of programs are consolidated into one. Checking your social media posts, messages, your email, text messages, and website inquiries all in one place in just minutes.
Automation when done properly removes friction and resistance from any area of your business that is a lower revenue generating activity. Your time is the most valuable thing you have and using automation tools is how you buy back that time.
With web3, websites will be able to automate many processes, reducing the need for intermediaries and streamlining operations.
I want to give a few examples of ways we can Automate our websites with Web3. The first is dynamic pricing and inventory management: Web3 and blockchain technology will allow for automated and real-time pricing and inventory updates on our e-commerce websites, reducing manual labor and increasing efficiency so that you and your team can focus on higher revenue generating tasks.
The second is user authentication and verification: Web3 and blockchain technology will provide a secure and automated way to verify user identities, reducing the risk of fraud and making it easier for websites to manage user access and permissions.
I’ve already had to dramatically improve my knowledge around user verification after working with nearly a dozen blockchain brands since 2016.
There are already QR codes being used to login to websites like discord and other utilities like Crypto Wallets. The last example is content delivery and distribution, Web3 and blockchain technology allows for the automated content distribution, reducing the need for manual content updates and ensuring that the most up-to-date information is always available on your site.
This will free up time and resources for more creative and meaningful work, and will help to reduce costs for both users and website owners. This is good for any business owner that wants to lower their bottom line costs while raising their top line revenue simultaneously by leveraging time at the highest level of efficiency possible.
When it comes to Revenue Web3 will give you maximum monetization potential.
In the world of websites, monetization is the process of generating revenue from a website. Traditional website monetization methods include advertising, subscriptions, and e-commerce sales. However, with the advent of web3 and blockchain, the landscape of website monetization is about to change.
For example purposes let’s use a loyalty program analogy, a loyalty program is a rewards system offered by businesses to incentivize customers to continue using their services. Similarly, on web3, website monetization will offer new ways for website owners to monetize their content and incentivize users to continue visiting their site.
One example of how websites on web3 and blockchain can monetize their content is through tokenization. In this model, websites can issue tokens that represent ownership of certain content or access to premium features.
Users can then purchase these tokens and exchange them for access to the content or features they are interested in. This creates a new revenue stream for the website and offers users an incentive to visit and engage with the site.
Another way that web3 and blockchain can monetize content is through micropayments. In the traditional web, micropayments are difficult to execute due to high transaction fees and slow processing times. However, with the speed and low cost of transactions on the blockchain, micropayments become a viable option for websites to monetize their content.
This allows websites to offer users access to small amounts of content in exchange for a small payment, giving users a more affordable way to access quality content they are interested in.
One of the best examples I’ve seen so far is how Tom Bilyeu has used NFT’s as a way for people to get access to his content which ranges from events, to video games, tv shows, education and a ton more his nft’s are cleverly called the “Founder Keys.” There are lots of perks that brands are giving to early adopters that support the web3 movement and help us move closer to a better, safer, and more balanced internet.
Websites can also create loyalty program-like systems that incentivizes users to continue visiting and engaging with their site.
As the web3 and blockchain ecosystem continues to grow, we can expect to see an influx of new and creative monetization models emerge, providing websites with new opportunities to generate more revenue, and their users and visitors with new and exciting ways to access and engage with your content.
Decentralization puts Consent into action.
As a designer, the websites or graphics I create that started from an idea, a conversation, or something i’ve experienced are valuable and belong to me, knowing that there are AI design tools that can take my 15 years of experience, and use it to create an even better version in seconds and essentially for free?
That’s a big NO NO for the creators and artists, in fact there is a movement happening right now about consent and how these big platforms don’t have the consent to use their art as reference for AI design tools.
I stand behind being able to give consent if your work is going to be used without your permission, if movie and music piracy is a federal crime shouldn’t companies stealing a designer’s work without consent a crime too?
I think so, and that’s why I’m so excited about Web3 and Blockchain. Being able to create smart contracts and public records of your creative assets is a huge step forward for creators and designers around the world.
Imagine a world where your designs are stored on a decentralized platform, accessible only with your consent. You can choose who can view your work, who can use it, and how it can be used. No longer do you have to worry about your designs being stolen or used without your permission.
With web3 and Blockchain, your work is protected by the power of blockchain technology, ensuring that your designs remain yours.
In this new world, you can also monetize your work in new and innovative ways. For example, you could offer limited use licenses for your designs, allowing others to use them for a specified period of time. You could also offer exclusive access to your designs, giving a select group of people the ability to use them in a unique way.
By giving you the power to control how your work is used, shared, and monetized, web3 decentralization empowers you to take control of your career and build a future that reflects your vision and values. Decentralization is a game-changer for designers and creatives alike.
You get complete power of consent for your work to be used in any way, web3 decentralization empowers you to take control of your career and build a future that reflects your vision and values. So why not embrace this exciting new technology and start building your future today?
Interacting with Web3 Websites will be easier than ever.
Web3 website users will be able to customize a range of interactions on a website like content creation and sharing. Users will be able to create, share and consume content that aligns with their interests and preferences, without relying on centralized platforms.
Community building, users will have the ability to build and join communities that align with their interests and participate in decision-making processes, creating a more personalized and engaging online experience.
Interaction with E-commerce, users will be able to buy and sell goods and services directly with one another, without the need for traditional payment processors, creating a more transparent, secure, and affordable online marketplace.
Users will be able to access personalized services and experiences based on their data and preferences, creating a more user-centered online experience. A good example is a pizza shop website that keeps track of the last purchase you made and gives you the option to re order it at a discount price.
Web3 users will have the ability to customize a wide range of interactions on the website, from content creation and community building, to e-commerce and data privacy, creating a more user-centered, personalized and engaging online experience.
The adoption of web3 and blockchain technology is poised to bring about a revolution in the world of website design. From decentralization to automation and from security to monetization, these technologies offer new and innovative ways to interact with the web.
As a designer, it is crucial to keep up with these changes and be prepared for the new opportunities and challenges that come with them.
Web3 decentralization empowers creators by giving them control over how their work is used. Automation streamlines processes and saves time, while security measures are reinforced, giving website owners peace of mind. And with monetization options like a rewards program, website owners can explore new and innovative ways to earn revenue.
Overall, the future of website design is bright with the integration of web3, blockchain, and ai. Designers should embrace the power of these technologies to unlock new possibilities on the web and create better online experiences for everyone
“Unlock the power of web3 and blockchain to unleash your creative potential, embrace the future of website design, and build the digital world of tomorrow.” – Adrian Boysel
Dating App Algorithms: Optimizing Search for Love
With nearly 8 billion people in the world, it’s safe to say there’s at least one person out there with whom everyone reading this would have a happy, healthy relationship. Now, that person isn’t the same for all of us—of course, and thankfully! And, depending on how you feel about soulmates, there might not be “the one” at all, rather potentially dozens or more people with whom you’d have a fulfilling relationship if only your paths crossed.
But back to that number—8 billion (8,000,000,000). That is a nine-zero situation that we don’t see spelled out very often. And all those zeros make for a lot of potential relationship heroes to consider.
But we don’t start by considering all 8 billion; we hone in on those folks who seem most likely to be a good match. We start with basic criteria—like age, location, gender and gender preference—and continue refining our options from there.
And if you’re doing your searching and sorting at least in part through ‘the apps’, which the numbers show many of you are, dating app algorithms are instrumental in helping you find someone special.
Table of Contents
Algorithms are sets of instructions or rules that help complete a process as those rules intend. No matter how simple or complex the algorithm, or how much or how little data it has to digest to function properly, the basics of how it works are the same.
Algorithms are designed as tools to help in sorting, digesting, and delivering relevant information; it is people who determine the goals the algorithm will help achieve. And despite algorithms in the digital space being regularly eyed with suspicion by many, they are truly intended to improve our search results.
While all dating apps share a foundational commonality—helping foster connections—they also differ in some key ways that might influence their current and future goals. Let’s do some background research on a few of the most popular dating apps to see what we dig up.
If you’ve tried more than one dating app, or are weighing your options, you may find yourself wondering the same thing you wonder when looking for a partner: “Are they really all the same?” This is where it’s important to again consider the goals of that particular platform. Many have the same overarching goal—to connect people to other people they’ll like—but what kind of connections is each best suited for, and why?
You can tell a lot about a dating app by the first impression it makes with its name and slogan; both can provide some level of insight into what the goals of that dating platform are, which helps make sense of what the goals of the algorithm would be.
Remember that “matching” is largely what search functions as a whole are designed for, whether it’s matching searchers with the right information, right services, right answers, or Ms. or Mr. Right.
Let’s do some classic internet detective work to see what we can learn about a few popular apps, diving deepest into Tinder…
Tinder is among the most popular dating apps thanks largely to its large user base, ease-of-use, and becoming a bit of a household name over the past few years. For many folks, Tinder is synonymous with dating apps the way Band-Aid is synonymous with adhesive bandages. In fact, recent data shared by Statista found that brand awareness of Tinder in the US is 84%, and that 37% of all US dating service users are on the platform.
As we know, the first step in understanding an algorithm is determining its goals. Let’s see what we can learn about who Tinder is, and what their goals, purpose and promise are, straight from the source—Tinder.com.
- Tinder is the most popular free dating app in the world, and has made more than 55 billion matches to date. They boast millions of single users, and considers themselves “the most diverse dating app”
- In your Discovery Settings on Tinder, you can set your sexual orientation, and the age and distance-from-you for the profiles you’ll see on the platform. They use location-based technology to connect you with relevant profiles based on those selections (Source: Tinder FAQs)
- Tinder can also be used to foster non-romantic connections, including helping college students make friends at school through TinderU
- Tinder believes “everyone deserves the right to be seen and make the first move,” and doesn’t filter by race, religion, education, or height
- Tinder isn’t only for those looking for ‘the one’ — ”Some sites, like Hinge and eharmony, are designed for long-term relationships, but on the Tinder app, we’re all about the experience and offer possibilities for whatever it is you’re looking for.”
- If you want your answers to specific questions to help you in finding users with similar replies, you can enable the Tinder Vibes feature. You can also add Passions (or Interests) to your profile.
- Tinder can also help you in finding more matches by notifying you when a Swipe Surge is underway—a period of high activity on the platform. Once you’ve joined, you can narrow your options by selecting from different categories that let other users know what you’re looking for on Tinder (ie. casual chats, nightlife, etc.)
- Tinder is open to evolving to keep up with the changing wants and needs of its users. After all, those who started on the platform in their early twenties may have very different goals in their early thirties, and no platform wants to lose its most loyal users. As recently as December 2022, Tinder added a Relationship Goals feature
Now that we’ve unpacked what Tinder is to help in understanding the why behind their algorithm goals, let’s dive deeper into what they’ve shared about how their algorithm works, which bears a lot of similarity to social media platform algorithms.
Engagement is a primary factor
Just like the Instagram algorithm better understands what you want to see more of based on your in-app engagement, Tinder can provide you with better potential matches the more you use the app. This includes using “anonymized cues” from photos in tailoring future recommendations, serving up profiles with photos similar to those a user has liked before. Nopes are also considered.
Because there are two people in this equation, the algorithm is working similarly on the flipside, showing your profile to users who have liked other profiles with photos similar to yours. If you start noticing similarities in the profiles you’re shown most often—like all your matches have profiles featuring concert photos or camping photos—your swipe history has likely influenced your results.
But on Tinder, it’s not just measuring your engagement metrics to determine your top interests; they also want to make sure you’re still actively looking. Tinder wants all their users to have an optimal user experience, which is facilitated in part by prioritizing active members.
Translating this to the ecommerce space, they want to make sure they aren’t wasting your time, or annoying you, by directing you to out-of-stock URLs.
Proximity comes into play
When creating a Tinder profile, users provide their gender, gender preferences, age, distance (from potential matches), and current location. These are all fairly standard, but it’s that ‘current location’ where things can get interesting.
In addition to considering your state or city-based location in the potential matches shown, Tinder will go one step further and prioritize profiles that are in the nearest proximity. “Proximity is a key factor; it’s always fun meeting someone in the same neighborhood and that’s why we consider a potential match’s distance from a member’s current location.”
Translating this to the commerce space, they don’t only want to show which stores have the product in-stock ‘near you’ in a broad sense, rather what’s available in the stores closest to you where you can click-and-collect (swipe-and-connect?) ASAP.
User-provided data can help refine matches
Many folks like that they can get started swiping on Tinder with just a modest amount of upfront work required, but the more data you give the algorithm to work with, the better your results are going to be. While adding your interests/passions and a detailed lifestyle description are optional, Tinder will consider them in your matches when you provide them.
Tinder also shared some things that aren’t factored into their algorithm, including social status, religion, and ethnicity. They also noted that their much-discussed Elo Score is “old news” that their latest technology doesn’t rely on.
While there are dozens, if not hundreds, of dating sites to choose from today, the one that can be considered the mother of them all is Match. Starting all the way back in 1995 when many folks still relied on newspaper classifieds to find singles in their area, Match.com entered the scene to lay the groundwork for letting the information superhighway (aka internet) provide the path to lasting love.
Unlike Tinder, Match isn’t simply looking to foster connections; as their name implies, they are looking to help find true matches. They’ll even let you know if you’ve crossed paths with one of your matches in real life. That said, it isn’t as expressly marriage-driven as eHarmony, so may serve as a nice middle ground for folks who want something more than casual, but aren’t rushing nuptials.
So how do they make those matches? As you might expect, your provided information is at the foundation! And as noted by BestCompany, Match offers one of the most comprehensive profiles around—if users take the time to complete theirs. In addition to being able to add information like religion, profession, and whether you have children, Match goes even further giving users the option to submit responses to essay questions. They also let you rank how important something is, noting if it’s essential or just nice-to-have.
The importance of your profile, from Match:
“It contains questions about who you are, where you’re from, the things that interest you, your lifestyle, and your background and values. It also asks you about your ideal match. All of this information helps form a great image of who you are and who you’re looking for. Not only does this help potential matches understand you better, it also helps us provide you with better matches through our unique matching tools.”
Bumble is unique in that it requires women to make the first messaging move (in heterosexual matches). They note that they prioritize kindness and respect, and similar to Tinder, have sister sites aimed at helping users network or find a new BFF. Like many other popular apps, Bumble is free to use, but offers optional premium features that can help get your profile seen and improve or increase functionality.
Bumble isn’t as transparent about their algorithm as Tinder, but who you see on the app appears to be largely filter-driven. While filters can be very helpful in narrowing your selection of available options, Bumble notes that over-filtering may leave you with very few profiles that make the cut. Loosening your filters can help in making you matchable with a wider variety of users, but bear in mind you’re losing some precision in the process.
Similar to most dating app algorithms, it is speculated that Bumble is learning what you like and don’t like as you swipe. Just like the information you expressly provide to aid in making matches, including your gender and distance preferences, your swipe activity is another factor for the algorithm to consider. The more intentional you are about the choices you make, the more accurately the algorithm will be able to deliver strong potential matches in the future. This is just another layer of ‘you get out what you put in’; if you want Bumble to better understand who to show you, they need to get to know you first.
On Bumble, regular use of the app isn’t only encouraged, but required for optimal experience. Once a match is made, a message must be sent within 24 hours; if not, the match expires. And after the first message has been sent, another 24-hour timer begins. If a reply isn’t sent within that window, the match expires. Similar to Tinder, this shows us that Bumble prioritizes profile activity so it can ensure users aren’t wasting time crafting messages to inactive users.
Where Bumble differs from Tinder is in what the vast majority of its users are looking for. Whereas Tinder aims to be the dating app destination for users looking for everything from casual connections to something serious, the majority of Bumble users are looking for long-term relationships.
It’s also worth noting that the ‘women message first’ model for heterosexual relationships is a motivating factor in using the app for men and women alike. As Bumble’s infographic shows, 97% of women made that first move and messaged their matches in the past month. And 63% of men reported that “women making the first move” was their reason for choosing Bumble.
eharmony is a dating app designed for people looking for serious, long-term relationships. In fact, according to eharmony, couples who met through their platform make up 4% of all marriages in the US.
With this goal in mind—helping people who are truly, deeply compatible find one another—eharmony has to ask a lot of questions to make sure they get things right. For casual daters, these types of question lists are often exactly what puts them off a dating site. For those who want to get right to scrolling or swiping, eharmony is not a good match.
Just remember—you get out what you put in, because the algorithm is working with the input you provided in its output. The more relevant information you provide for it to work with, the more tailored to you your results will be. On eharmony, they actually quantify your likelihood of getting along with someone by assigning a Compatibility Score, with 60 being low compatibility, and 140 being the highest compatibility.
Explained by eharmony:
“Each of your matches will display a different eharmony Compatibility Score and, as the name suggests, it’s a simple indicator of how compatible you two are. These scores are based on your similarities and contrasts, as well as the answers you gave to our Compatibility Quiz when you joined eharmony. In the Compatibility section of each match’s profile, you can see what similarities you have, and also potential points of friction.”
Happy to answer a laundry list of questions about who you are, and what’s most important to you, but don’t want to pay a fee? OkCupid is another popular dating site option that relies heavily on provided information to aid in the compatibility measurement process, for free (upgrade options available).
Just because algorithms can help you find love certainly doesn’t mean they’re the only path to happiness. They simply provide a more streamlined, strategic path of possibility that sifts through the wide sea of options, providing a curated, filtered, or otherwise sorted list of choices from which you can weigh pros and cons before ever typing “hello.”
Similarly, most of us have happened upon one or more products in our lives that we didn’t even know we were looking for, but instantly fell in love with. Perhaps it was that perfect gold charm bracelet you stumbled across in a tucked-away jewelry store while on vacation. Or maybe it’s those jeans you grabbed at a store near your office when you forgot you had after-work plans, and they ended up being the most flattering, comfortable jeans you’ve ever owned.
These are moments of luck and serendipity, and they do indeed happen every day! But they don’t make a solid plan for accomplishing your goals, no matter what you’re searching for.
The algorithms that power dating apps will always be running in the background, but many apps offer ways to get your profile seen when it might not have otherwise been algorithmically driven to the top. It’s important to note that these aren’t true algorithm workarounds, rather methods through which you can push to the front of a specific line, often at a price.
Additionally, some features are more simply designed to let you engage more often or heavily within the app, which can naturally improve your chances of securing a date. In a sense, this can be thought of as advertising yourself.
For example: In addition to the additional benefits packed into each of Tinder’s subscription tiers, popular premium features include Boost and Super Like, which Tinder claims will “increase your chances of matching by 3x and have convos that last 70% longer.” Exclusive to Tinder Platinum subscribers is the Priority Like feature, which “puts your profile in front of the people you Like faster.” Similar premium features are available on Match.com, where they’re known as Power-Ups.
Not only do some dating apps offer paid services that help users go over the algorithm to an extent, they also make a lot of their money from advertising revenue. As it turns out, love—or at the least the quest thereof—just might be able to pay the bills, after all.
Does Match Group have a monopoly on love?
Ad space across many of the most popular dating apps can be purchased from the same place—Match Media Group. That’s because Match Group owns more than a dozen popular apps, and can sell cross-platform advertising options to prospective advertisers for many of them.
“Match Media Group serves as a single point partner for marketers to leverage the aggregated audience, data and insights that result from having millions of global users across Match’s portfolio of dating platforms, including Tinder, OKCupid and Match.com.”
As for who exactly is cuddled up under this love umbrella, the following are some of the dating apps owned by Match Group…
- …and many more dating companies worldwide
But the Match Group isn’t the only major player on the block. There is no denying their impressive portfolio of apps, and the incredible data they’re able to collect and leverage thanks to the millions of users across their portfolio. But two of the biggest names in the dating app world are missing from their list—Bumble and badoo—both owned by the same parent company.
What advertising options are available on dating apps?
Looking specifically at ad products available from Match Media Group, we find the following options:
- Branded Profile Card (Tinder): Brands can create profiles native to the Tinder user experience. When users match with a branded profile, they receive brand custom messaging including offers, promotions, exclusive content, and/or more
- Quiz (Tinder): Quizzes can be fully completed within the app, and leverage Tinder’s swipe feature to answer questions, which can be as simple as asking whether they like or dislike something. Following a short series of questions, these users can then share their results across their social media networks if they choose to
- Native Video Card (Tinder): Video advertising is only on the rise, and makes a perfect fit for a fast-paced app that appeals to younger users, like Tinder. Tinder video ads can lead folks to external URLs, including your website. These video ads auto-play within the app when users are in discovery mode
- Native Display Card (Tinder): Similar to a profile card in design, these ad units allow brands to drive traffic to an external page with one click.
- In-App Interstitial (OKCupid): These full screen interstitial ads are shown as users are browsing their matches
- Standard/High Impact Units (Match, Meetic, People Media, Plenty of Fish): These are set to target your key demographic, and are available across several platforms
Match Media Group notes that interested advertisers can run their campaigns across their full portfolio, or on specific sites, with a minimum investment of $25K+.
Advantages of Advertising on Dating Apps
There are perhaps more advertising options available today than ever before—from classic digital advertising avenues to in-store screens, LED billboards, magazines, streaming ads, and far beyond. Each of these has unique goals and purposes, as well as the ability to reach potential customers in different mindsets, different funnel stages, and so forth.
Looking at advertising on dating apps specifically, a few key considerations and benefits come to mind:
- People on dating apps are already in a comparative state-of-mind. When someone is already actively in the consideration phase, like they would be on a dating app, they are mentally in the right place to be served an ad for a product or service to consider
- You can reach Gen Z in droves. The average user age varies from platform to platform, with the most popular free platform—Tinder—being home to a wide audience of Gen Z and young Millennial users. BusinessofApps notes that while Tinder has historically been popular with the 25-and-younger set, its use is increasing with older folks as well. This is due in part to Tinder’s overall increasing popularity, but also because those who have used the app for years are quite simply getting older
- Dating apps have a much higher percentage of male users on average. Similar to the average age varying by platform, the percentage of male users compared to female users also naturally varies. That said, looking at the breakdown for a few of the most popular apps, we find that there are significantly more male than female users. According to the above-linked article from BusinessofApps, Tinder’s user base is ~75% male. This could make dating apps an excellent advertising tool for brands whose products or services are largely targeted to men
- Your competitors probably aren’t there (yet). The competition for the most eligible singles may be fierce on dating apps, but compared to other digital advertising spaces, it may be easier for your brand to stand out. It’s a unique advertising territory that many brands simply haven’t considered yet, giving those who have an added edge by being early adopters. With an estimated 75 million people in over 190 countries using the Tinder app every month alone, the potential reach is incredible
Dating App Advertising Examples
Tinder recently partnered with rescue shelters across the country to help some very swipeable pooches find their forever home. As if adding a dog to the family isn’t reward enough, it could also help you secure more swipes. A 2021 study by Honest Paws found that profile photos featuring a canine companion may get more positive attention.
From The Drum:
“The tie-up follows a 2021 survey, conducted by Honest Paws, which found that 70% of singles believe that a dog in their profile pic leads to more matches. This belief is supported by 60% who express themselves to be more willing to date someone holding a dog close.”
As we’re all aware, it’s important to consider your audience in marketing. And that’s exactly what Domino’s UK did going all the way back to 2014, with an innovative Valentine’s Day Tinder ad campaign. Do you know who orders pizza on Valentine’s Day? Single people! And do you know who wants a coupon for that pizza? Everyone!
There’s a reason people say your profile is a chance to “sell yourself” because ultimately, you are your own marketing manager on dating apps. Interestingly, when we consider all the information above, it’s hard not to see a dating profile as remarkably similar to a product detail page. And just like a PDP, there are certain elements that can help you in optimizing it for search (and conversion!)
Choose your main photo wisely
Your main photo is the first photo potential connections will see, and heavily determines whether they choose to learn more from your other photos and profile content.
Similar to the main photo you choose for a product you’re selling or advertising, you’ll want the photo to be clear/in-focus, eye-catching, and prominently feature an attractive and accurate representation of the available item (in this case, you!), without others in frame.
Let the pictures do some of the talking
While there is room to provide additional information about yourself through text, just as they do with product images, photos can tell a lot of that story for you. Select an assortment of pictures that clearly display your interests, values, hobbies and more. This might mean including a photo with your dog, another of you hiking, another at an amusement park, and another marching at a protest.
These don’t tell the whole story of who you are, but they give some important information before a single word has been read, just like lifestyle photos and infographics on PDPs.
Showcase your unique value propositions
It’s hard to argue that honesty is typically the best policy, and in the dating apps landscape, it’s absolutely crucial. Not only can it save you from frustration and disappointment, but it can also save you a lot of time, and help in finding a truly strong match faster.
Just as you would do when considering what distinguishes your particular product from similar products in the same space, think of what unique characteristics about yourself are not only likely to be intriguing, but are also an integral aspect of your personality, values, or lifestyle.
Include the most important and relevant information in your profile copy
Want to give dating app algorithms the most information to work with in crafting potential matches that are truly personalized to you? It’s going to take a little work on your part, but it can actually be a great self-reflection session!
Just as you consider what a prospective buyer would want to know about a product before adding to cart, what is most important for a potential suitor to know about you before sending a message? This information might vary depending on the seriousness of connections you’re looking to make, and how important something is for you in a partner. If something is a make-or-break for you, be sure to include it in your profile copy to save everyone time.
Our research into how dating algorithms function only solidified our suspicions that they function very similarly to the algorithms that impact our daily lives as marketers. After all, the goals of platforms like Google, Facebook, and Tinder aren’t all that different—to help in sorting through an abundance of options to present you with what you are most likely to be interested in based on key preference-determining factors like your provided information, and previous engagement.
Thinking more specifically about marketing and advertising options, we realized that just like people, each has its own set of strengths and skills that make them a solid match for different business goals.
In the spirit of dating profiles and Valentine’s Day being just 2 weeks away, we created Marketing Profiles for three of our services—Connected Commerce, Lifecycle Marketing, and Streaming+. Which one is the most important match for your business?
Name: Connected Commerce
About Me: I’m that holistic free spirit your mother warned you about, who really and truly believes all things are connected! Rather than searching for the path of least resistance, my sights are set on crafting the path of best performance. You might call me the Cartographer of Commerce Success, because I don’t follow a templated map—I draft a custom one every time. I am your 360-degree commerce solution; if people are shopping somewhere, I’m considering how we can make that somewhere work best for you.
Why Should You Get to Know Me: In the words of Ani DiFranco, “I am 32 flavors and then some.” I am Commerce Media, Commerce Strategy & Ops, Social Commerce, In-Store Commerce, Gaming Commerce, Commerce OTT, Data & Analytics, Creative, and Influencer. A lot of folks think they’re the “total package,” but I really am! I understand that every client journey and customer journey is unique, and that my role is to assure both are properly supported, and strategically accounted for.
Interests: Finding the best path forward, diving into cross-channel capabilities and impact, full-funnel commerce strategies, success
Recent Read: Marketing in 2023: 5 Big Bets for the CMO
Where You’ll Find Me: Come learn more about me at The Commerce Summit on February 15, 2023. (I’ll be the one with a bagful of half-priced Valentine’s Day chocolates I picked up at Rite Aid on the way.) If things go well and we make a real connection (which is kinda my whole thing), we can sync up again a week later for webinar date #2 on February 22, 2023. You can also hit me up here anytime—looking forward to connecting!
Favorite Quote: “We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” ― William James
Name: Lifecycle Marketing
About Me: I’m the trifecta of hyper-personalized, privacy-compliant communications—email marketing, mobile messaging, and on-site marketing. I work best when all three aspects of who I am are fully-integrated so I can ensure I’m saying the right thing at the right time in the right place to the right person. (Do I really mean that, or do I keep saying “right” so you see me as the “right one” for you? Yes and yes.)
Why Should You Get to Know Me: I am a strong, capable leader that can help power your data and audience strategies in the privacy-by-default future. I’m an empathetic marketing avenue, always aiming to provide shoppers and subscribers with only the most relevant information. I believe in rewarding loyalty, and respecting user permissions and preferences.
Recent Read: The 2023 Lifecycle Marketing Guide
Where You’ll Find Me: On-site, I often literally just pop up! And I usually have a coupon or something equally enticing to offer when I do. But you’ll also find me in your inbox, and in your texts (but only if you opted-in!) You can also reach out here to learn more about why we’d be a great match!
About Me: I’m a bit of an advertising force to be reckoned with, with no click-to-close box in sight! In some situations, it can even be said I’m over-the-top. I am an unskippable, scalable, targetable, data-driven dynamo, introducing audiences to new brands and services wherever they get their stream on.
Why Should You Get to Know Me: I’m designed to reach audiences not only where they are today, but where they’ll increasingly be in the future. In the grand scheme of advertising, some folks still see streaming ads as a promising up-and-comer. But the reality is that I’ve fully arrived, and I’m reaching millions of viewers and listeners with relevant, targeted streaming audio and video ads at this very moment. (Bit of a multitasker!)
Interests: Meeting your audience where they are, non-skippable ads, patented measurement technology that connects served impressions to marketing outcomes
Recent Read: The Ultimate Guide to Performance Streaming
Where You’ll Find Me: On internet-enabled devices near you, including your television, tablet, desktop, and mobile device. Some of the most popular places you can find me are Hulu, Sling TV, and YouTube TV. Reach out today to learn more about how we can make streaming sparks fly!
Favorite Karaoke Duet Song: Islands in the Stream by Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers
Personal Catchphrase: Just livin’ the stream!
With all this talk about the power of algorithms, and how they’re fueling search results everywhere from Snapchat to Match.com, it’s important to remember that they’re simply tools that play a part in powering what you see—not what you ultimately decide.
It is still up to you whether you want to go on a date with a person returned in your search results, just like it’s ultimately up to you what product you buy, plumber you call, or restaurant you decide to go to based on your search results. And just like there are algorithms, photos, provided information and more to help you with those other decisions, so is the case in the commerce of love.
As we’ve explored, choosing the right dating app for you requires considering your own goals in using the app, and weighing those against the goals of the apps themselves. So the first step is finding which app is your best match! And at the end of the day, whatever it is you’re looking for online, chances are algorithms are behind those results you see. (Not to be confused with the Al Gore Rhythm.)
Want to learn more about how we can help your brand find true love with new and existing customers across the advertising universe? Reach out today!
How to create a user flow map for your website & app
In the highly competitive world of rock climbing, some athletes perform an extreme version of ascent: a climber performs a flash climb when they complete a route on their first attempt. Climbers value world record flash climbs because each climber only gets one attempt to set a record.
As difficult as flash climbs are, they aren’t extreme enough for some climbers. In a flash ascent, climbers can study the route, receive advice, and formulate plans. For climbers not satisfied with that level of challenge, onsight climbs are performed by climbers who not only have never completed the ascent before but haven’t even seen the route.
Extreme athletes seek out unique challenges, taking pride in accomplishing things that most people cannot. While the risk of failure adds unique value to sports, it adds unnecessary difficulty to business processes. In the business world, you don’t define success by creating unique challenges but by creating unique solutions to minimize challenges. One of those solutions is a user flow map—a method of diagramming the pathways users take through your interface.
A good user flow map helps businesses understand their users’ journeys, identify pain points, and plan for contingencies. This guide explains user flows, how to create user flow maps, and some best practices for designing your diagrams.
- User journey describes the user’s entire experience with your company, while user flow describes the steps they follow using your interface.
- Some common shapes like ovals, rectangles, diamonds, and parallelograms have commonly understood uses in flow charts.
- Follow best practices and use the experts at Optimizely to level up your digital experience.
User flow vs. user journey
While user flow and user journey have similar names and overlap in significant ways, you should be aware of important differences between these concepts.
The user journey encompasses every aspect of the user’s experience with your company. The user journey begins when a user first becomes aware of your business (or becomes aware of a need you can solve) and ends with their last interaction with your company. That means that while you can’t know exactly when a user journey begins or ends, you can use customer relationship management software to identify where a user is on their journey and how to move them to the next step.
The user flow overlaps with the user journey, but it specifically describes the pathway users follow on your website or application. For example, a user flow may begin when a user visits your website for the first time and end with a purchase. Those activities are a part of the larger user journey, but the user flow is more interested in the experience users have with your website or app.
The user journey is interested in the user’s emotions, tangible and intangible interactions, ongoing communication, relationship building, etc.—the “people” side of the process; while the user flow is interested in the “technology” side of the process—the user’s clicks, page visits and subscriptions. The user flow and user journey describe different elements of the same relationship between your business and your users.
User flow diagraming
Your users won’t ever see your user flow map, but you and your team will refer to it throughout the life of your website or app, so while it doesn’t have to be the prettiest document, it should still be clear and user-friendly.
While the rules of user flow diagraming aren’t set in stone, you should know some best practices and generally understand flowchart creation syntax.
- Ovals represent the start and end point of your flow chart. Depending on your process, your user flow might have more than one start point and more than one endpoint.
- Squares or rectangles represent individual pages or steps. In general, flow charts, squares and rectangles can be any step of a process, but in web and app design, squares and rectangles represent individual pages in the user interface.
- Diamonds represent decisions that users must make. For example, when a user first attempts to log in to your platform, your website may prompt them to connect a Google or Facebook account, or they may log in with an email or continue as a guest. Depending on their choice, their journey through your website or app may diverge as you deliver a different experience based on their choices.
- Parallelograms represent input required by the user. For example, you may require them to input a serial number to activate their product or provide a shipping address to receive a service.
- Arrows indicate the direction of the flow. Your flow may include loops, crossroads, and diverging and converging pathways, so indicating the sequence of elements is essential for your user flow map to be readable.
Generally, those four shapes, along with arrows, are the foundational building blocks of your user flow map, but you can always use additional shapes, colors or other design elements to communicate any information you believe is relevant. Remember that the purpose of a user flow map isn’t just to follow the rules or check a box but to communicate information about the user flow. The example below shows additional shapes that other companies have used when creating flow charts.
User flow design principles
As with any form of communication, user flow maps lose some value when they omit relevant information and include too much irrelevant information. Designing a successful user flow map includes balancing several considerations to maximize the usefulness of your diagram.
1. Establish a level of detail
If your user flow maps are too detailed, they become convoluted and difficult to read. If they aren’t detailed enough, they aren’t useful. Establishing the correct level of granularity is an important first step in designing a user flow map.
When it comes to designing diagrams, the golden principle is to consider the needs of your users. What kind of questions will they be trying to answer with your chart? What level of experience will they have? What will they be using this chart to do? Answering those questions will help you define the right level of detail for your user flow map.
2. Consider alternatives
One of the reasons user flow maps are useful is because they allow designers to visually parse the journey users go on as they traverse your website or app. Do your best to consider every alternative when designing your user flow map.
For example, what will you do if users add items to their cart but leave without checking out? What will you do if a user provides a billing address but not a shipping address? What if a user requests a free trial but then buys the full version? Your user flow map will help you identify these crossroads and plan for contingencies.
3. Use the right digital experience platform
Your users’ digital experience matters. Optimizely is a powerful digital experience platform with expert tools to help with automation, A/B testing, content management, and much more.
A user flow map only describes your customers’ journey as they interact with your digital interface. While a user map can help identify pain points and visually inspire solutions, the key to improving your customer’s experience is to improve the content of your website or app.
If you’re ready to take your digital experiences to the next level, get started today to set up a meeting with an Optimizely representative today.
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